Doppio, ristretto, macchiato, corretto, americano – even in capsules, especially if they are biodegradable. Romans prefer it “al vetro” (in glass) while a “caffè sopspeso” (pending coffee) is paid for anonymously, for a stranger. It is a nicety of Neapolitan tradition. It seems strange, but we associate coffee with a “break” just as much as a “pick-me-up”. Of course, the most consumed drink in the world is in that position due to its incomparable social value. A veritable glue around which ideas are born, as the Il Caffè magazine recalls when covering the Milanese enlightenment.
The world's most popular drink is also such because of its unparalleled social value
On the international day devoted to it, it is a privilege to write to you from the Arabian Peninsula, where it all started. At the end of the 1800s, Pellegrino Artusi, the father of Italian gastronomy, wrote that the best coffee comes from Mokha, a city in Yemen which faces the Red Sea. In his manual “Science in Cooking and the Art of eating well”, an entire chapter is devoted to coffee, with tips and advice on how best to prepare it. The city of Mokha was also the inspiration behind the stovetop coffee maker invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, based on a simple principle of physics: the force exerted by vapor overcomes the force of gravity. Boiling water rises along the filter tunnel, extracting the caffeine. The aroma that emerges completes the scene.
The city of Mokha was also the inspiration behind the stovetop coffee maker invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, based on a simple principle of physics: the force exerted by vapor overcomes the force of gravity. Boiling water rises along the filter tunnel, extracting the caffeine. The aroma that emerges completes the scene.
In the late 19th century, Pellegrino Artusi, the father of Italian gastronomy, wrote that the best coffee is that of Mokha, a city in Yemen overlooking the Red Sea
If Ethiopia is the land of origin, the Arabian Peninsula – land of traders – is its cradle. Legend has it that the prophet Mohammed regained his strength after a long journey thanks to a black potion offered to him by the archangel Gabriel. The doctor and philosopher Ibn Sina “Avicenna” explained in his book Al-Qanun Fi at-Tibb (The canon of medicine) that coffee berries from Yemen ensure perfect digestion. In the fifteenth century it established itself among the Islamic Sufi monarchs as a remedy to prevent falling asleep during late-night prayers. Then it arrived in Europe at the end of the 1500s, when Vienna was under the grip of a Turkish siege, releasing its aromas in the salons of the European nobility.
Today, the infinite variety of blends and origins is increasingly the focus of the emergent profession of the “coffelier”, a sommelier of coffee or coffee expert who knows the characteristics, aromas, harvesting and processing techniques behind the perfect cup. The Arabica variety, which mainly originates from Brazil, represents most of the coffee being traded. With its notes of chocolate and toast, it constitutes the basis for espresso.
The endless variety of blends and provenances is increasingly the subject of the emerging profession of the coffelier
The Canephora (also called Robusta) variety, which is cheaper and easier to cultivate, comes mainly from Vietnam and Indonesia, while Liberica and Excelsa make up only a small percentage of the total. In short, even a simple coffee can be a very serious affair. It now constitutes UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in Turkey, where in popular culture it is still used before marriage to test the husband-to-be’s patience by adding salt to his coffee. If it’s true love, he will remain unperturbed.
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